I wasn’t going to write tonight. Each time I had started to do so, I came up with nothing but feisty, unkind, passive aggressive wording, yet, here I am. Thanks to the love, prayers, positive energy and encouragement that surround me, I have decided to try to be brave and share my heart. Let’s hope I don’t regret it in the morning.
This is not a pretty post. Not at all. It’s kind of ugly and I just pray that I keep it about my experience and not someone else’s story. Whatever.
I am in the middle of learning some tough lessons. About myself, relationships, the difference between love and lust…so much. So fucking much. Lessons that I expect I ‘should’ have down by down at the ripe age of 46. I guess after being with one man for 23 years, I’m not joking when I say I am like a teenager at times and these growing pains are simply yuck.
My heart aches. Deeply. Every time I face rejection from a man, in any aspect, it’s like I bring into it a lifetime of rejection. It rapidly becomes all about everything I am not rather than about what the situation really is. Tonight, someone I am particularly fond and who has been precious (in my eyes) ‘defriended’ me on social media. Really. So familiar to what I hear my teenagers struggle with at times. I don’t even know why. It doesn’t matter. It stung and started a flood of tears that I can’t seem to stop.
An onslaught of failures, lies and struggles suck me in. Failed marriage. Poor choices. Less than. Never enough. Won’t happen. Negligent. Disorganized. Scattered. Settled for. Two faced. Fat. Broken. Messed up. Crazy. Damaged. Wounded. Stubborn. Less than, again. Optional. Disposable. Debris. Stupid. Boring. Too much. Not enough, again. Temporary. Unworthy. Plain. Short hair. Gross. Hurting. The list goes on.
Through it all, my mind keeps hearing the words of a dear friends prayer for me, along with a sermon that I have listened to numerous times lately. It’s all about the story we tell ourselves. We might tell ourselves something that is not necessarily a lie, but instead a twisted up version of the truth. It really pinged my heart because I know that I tend to live in the truth of my story instead of the truth of who God really made me to be….especially in regard to my relationships with men.
I am happily confident in my job, work hard in school, and adore my internship. I am a magnificent friend, the best Momma for my kids and try hard to fill my other roles with all the love, giving, compassion and care that I can give. Bottom line, I feel ‘good enough’ in these roles for the most part and when I don’t, I make changes accordingly. That’s one Sarah. She knows who she is and what she wants. She believes it is just as important to play hard as it is to work hard; she is not hesitant to go for what she wants.
Then…there is the Sarah who sees herself as disposable. She is seeking a real and deep love, a true connection with a gentleman that holds truth and freedom in it. She is looking for the hands that will hold her heart with love, gentleness and protection. She knows she has much to give BUT….this woman sees herself as a young girl who is overweight, awkward, painfully shy and unwanted. No matter how she ‘looks’ to others, and despite the way she works on positive changes…she mostly sees herself as someone broken, deeply lacking or undesirable. This feeling sucks. I know it’s not truth, but it ‘feels’ truthful in the moment and operating from that truth leads to a plethora of poor choices. Choices that disregard who I am at my core and what I hope for in this life. Choices that are made out of a fear of being without companionship. Choices that give a temporary band-aid to lonely feelings but absolutely do not result in long term fulfillment. Choices that are made because there is gratitude that someone desires me vs. knowing it is a privilege to have time with me.
I’m not speaking to intentional choices I make as a grown woman to participate in relationships that are fun, fulfilling in their own way and not long term. I am referring specifically to participating in relationships knowing full well that it won’t be what I want it to be, but choosing to believe I can change it to what I desire. I can BS myself like no other, but don’t worry, I speak the truth to others. So often that it gets me in trouble…not everyone wants that.
The story that I tell myself is that I will never find the love of my life, so I may as well enjoy whatever the moment offers. I will not ever be ‘the one’ to someone special, so I shall act accordingly. I’ve already had that, kind of, so God wants me to live the rest of my life alone and serving others. (I put those words to God, nothing I feel from him). I may as well go for the men who are not going to be long lasting, because in the end, they will leave. So why choose the ones I will really give my heart to? They too, will leave. Both will hurt but the latter will hurt far less. Choose the lesser of two evils, right? In the process, I am getting hurt and I am hurting others…unintentional as it may be. All of my protective forces are accomplishing nothing worth mentioning.
Who knows what of this is true and what is not? I know I am supposed to honor who I believe I am…a brave, worthy, happy, truly loved by God, whimsical, whole and surrendered woman. That is who I believe I was made to be, yet when I am engaging with men I am willing to trade that in for whatever they need me to be. That’s got to be better than what I really have to offer, right? Better even, let me serve as therapist and best friend ever, maybe even as a nurturing mom role. Ewwww. But it comes so natural.
A precious friend recently told me that “God made me and his work is always beautiful”. I love that friend and his heart. I want to believe his words. My heart agrees, it is beautiful…my brain taunts me by letting me know I’ll never measure up. But to who? How long am I going to let others opinion of me determine how I view myself. It’s ridiculous. Real stuff, but ridiculous.
I have a safety plan. Another dear friend and I have a ‘twenty year plan’. If neither of us are married at age 60, or in 20 years…we can marry each other. This is our little funny! In truth, I freak myself out. What if I die before then without experiencing the gift of a deep and abiding love with the ‘right’ man. I know…God’s timing…it’s just so hard for me to trust.
I am tired. I cannot believe I am ‘here’. There are new crinkles around my eyes and I see faint wrinkles on the delicate skin of my neck. I can’t seem to keep up with the fastness of passing time.
My precious children…lots of love and hugs from them tonight. That should be more than sufficient. Why do I long for anything more? I just do. Even in my deep gratitude, there is a constant yearning.
This is my story. I’m trying to figure out how to live in the truth of who I am…in ALL of the circumstances and with ALL of the people. I am trying to let go of the story I once helped me survive and embrace the story that is truth.
This is my honesty.
I am resistant if you are willing. If you are willing, I am resistant. and so we dance around. and around. and around. Never do we arrive . We memorize the steps so we can begin again. -me
I am currently in my addiction and assessment class at school Fascinating because I have lived my 46 years surrounded by addicts that I love, and still I am learning the process of addiction. Bottom line…it sucks no matter which way you spin it.
One of our assigned projects is to give up something for two weeks. Read all about it…. (I am keeping a daily log/journal…can’t wait to share that). I am learning things about myself that aren’t the most pleasing. I am learning nonetheless.
I have chosen to give up all social media for these two weeks. This includes for me, Facebook (the biggest offender), Snapchat, Instagram (on these two to keep up with my kids and nieces), Twitter (to keep up with an old boyfriend’s articles) and all online dating sites (to meet ‘those’ connection needs). Even thinking about doing this for two weeks made my belly clench, so I decided it was probably the direction I needed to go.
Although we were not required to begin our abstinence until the morning of the class, I had been prepping myself for a couple of weeks. I’ve not decreased my social media time but I did let my Facebook world know what I would be doing and why. I was surprised at the positive responses I got and at the people who thought they might ‘try’ it too at some point. I know a slip up is a possibility but I don’t want to disappoint them. (or myself) I asked my best friend to help hold me accountable and I know she will. I decided yesterday (Thursday) afternoon to go ahead and disconnect. It had been an emotional day and I was doing lots of introspection…it just seemed like the right time to do it. Later that night, at home, I opened my laptop to do homework. Silly thing was opened to Facebook from the last time I had used it. I was mortified and made my classmate (we were working together) sign out for me. In no less than 5 minutes, I got a text from my best friend telling me to get off Facebook. Geez! She’s normally such an enabler for others, lol! Anyway, we called her on speaker because I did not want her to think I really was on Facebook. I struggle if anyone questions my integrity…always have. The internal struggle when my insides and outsides aren’t matching up is significant so when someone else questions that, it hurts me probably more than it should.
My ex-husband, left our home for the second time in June, 2016. My Daddy died in July, 2016. Going back even further, I had a stroke in 2009. There was an affair in our marriage in 2013. We legally divorced in 2017. I think each of these events strengthened the relationship I already had with social media, especially with Facebook. (lol! I just noticed how easily I referred to this possible addiction as a relationship).
That leads naturally into my next point…why is social media considered my friend? I don’t think I use it as my only way to connect, but it definitely is a way to connect. I’m super relational and I love to write. I post way more than I even look at things. But, looking back during those times of trauma, Facebook was an outlet for me to escape from my own reality, see how others were doing and post my journey…all of which were healing for me at the time. In hindsight, Facebook became a grounding connection when I felt lonely or afraid and it was always there for me. It was a way to disconnect from my own reality sometimes, and other times I shared my reality…but it was always there. I love the safety knowing that connection is always there and won’t abandon me. That’s really dumb. It reminds me of a client I had who struggled with serious mental health issues and constant loneliness. He told me that he hated when his cable wasn’t working because the people on t.v. were his only friends and they were always there. I get it buddy, I get it!
My compulsitory behavior of constantly checking Facebook…I look first thing in the morning and know that this ‘friend’ is there when I wake…even though my once husband is not. Now I remember toward the end of our marriage the emptiness I felt when I woke miles away from him in the same bed…we didn’t connect but I would connect with Facebook on my phone. I check it throughout the day and at night and at bedtime, as well as when I cannot sleep. I check it when I’m reading a book or doing homework or paying bills…no wonder I feel unfocused. I can see things that connect me, I read things that make me think or annoy me, or even touch my heart. It gives me a sense of being in touch when there is no one there to touch me. It fills my empty voids sometimes, other times it’s just positive, and often it’s only a distraction from life. So, I guess it appeals to my senses through the provision of memories of sweet times, tender touches, comforting smells; I can even hear and see the memories play out it my head. This is triggered through my own Facebook memories and also through current people and what I see. This refers to the constant clicking and scrolling part. Honestly, Facebook is also a way to keep up with the guys I date. Have they been on and they aren’t talking to me? Are they just talking to me? Are they honest? I’m validating my already existing walls and keeping score, whether they know it or not…and I’m feeding my insatiable curiosity. Writing this out, I feel like a voyeur and like I’m cheating myself from truly moving forward.
I think I have already addressed a foundation for how my behavior provides healing or is a balm to my emotional wounds. Now, as I am really healing, I enjoy reflecting on things I once wrote and seeing how far I’ve come. Yet, those memories that pop up can sometimes sting a little bit. As I just realized above…how much am I healing and how much am I holding on? I guess there is a fine balance. In sharing, I always hope that I am offering someone else healing and I hear often that I am. Hearing I am an inspiration is lovely but not what I seek. I am who I really am on social media but I find it’s easier for me to get my full feelings out in the written word sometimes, easier to find vulnerability there than in person which is probably part of why it continues to heal. I should be sharing that by working more on my blog or a book, like I always dream of. I am seeing though that I need to see how much social media is a true healing mechanism vs. how much social media is a band aid.
I don’t know that my social media addictive behavior really makes me feel helpless, but entrapped, yes. I guess because I realize it’s such a thing I reach to without even thinking and also that it made me nervous to think about giving it up, even for two weeks. That means it manages me more than I manage it and I don’t like that. That’s where the feeling of entrapment comes from. As I reflect on this with as much self-honesty as I can muster, I am wondering how many feelings social media helps me keep confined.
My consistent relationship with social media, Facebook in particular, costs me perhaps more than I have considered. I have goals and one of them is managing my time intentionally. Facebook clicking and scrolling steals from my time, and time is not a forever guaranteed thing. I heard somewhere recently that the average person spends seven years of their life on social media. Seven years. I don’t want that. In those terms, it kind of freaks me out. I could be writing, praying, connecting with my kids and others…instead I’m staring at a screen. How much of my life am I giving to the blue screen and what will the payoff for that be? Ugh.
I have this gut feeling that some intensely real part of me has been hibernating for years and like a baby bear coming out of a dark cave, it’s beginning to awaken. 2019 will be my last year of grad school. Working full time, momming, daughtering, schooling, working, interning….blah, blah, blah. It’s going to be a whirlwind of a year! I am amazed when I look back and see how far I’ve come (and I am overwhelmed when I see how far I have to go!)
We humans are ever-evolving, exploring creatures. I am in awe of our capacity for resilience and growth. That capacity gives me hope for us all. It especially gives me hope for myself because I dream of the day I am all grown up in the ways that matter.
Here’s what I am trying to grasp about being a grown up:
- Truly, other people’s opinions of me are none of my business. I spend a great deal of energy trying to ensure that other people are happy and content. Sometimes, I catch myself putting more energy into their well-being than they do. Guess who pays the highest price?
- Self-compassion and self-care isn’t all about bubble baths, long walks, journaling and time for me. It also looks like the icky stuff; hard conversations that need to be had, sticking to a budget, asking for help, making the choices that don’t feel good in the moment but have a tremendous pay-off later. That stuff counts for loving myself well too.
- Structure and routine are not dirty words. I have to learn this somehow. I hate being put in anyone’s box, including my own and find myself easily resisting what is best for me because of that.
- I am a grown up woman, I was made a sexual being, and that is okay. Actually, it’s far better than okay, it is magnificently wonderful. Labels, shame, guilt and not allowing myself to be who I was made to be is nonsense.
- There are people who have wiped my tears away in the most gentle and intimate manner. There are others who squirm away from emotion because it is uncomfortable for them. On the lines of people….some will see my scars as beautiful as they kiss them lovingly and see the miracle of life. Some will see those same scars as a marring of my physical body and they might say less than stellar things. Some will see my stretch marks and mom tummy as unattractive and displeasing; some will see these things as real and soft and safe. Some people might not see them at all. Guess what? Their thoughts ALWAYS have more to do with them and often nothing to do with me. That’s a hard one to swallow when one is a master at ugly self talk, but this is truth.
- My God loves me deeper, wider, bigger than I could ever imagine. I have atheist friends who think my God is a made up guy in the sky to serve no purpose but being a crutch. I have friends who have what I consider to be rigid beliefs, as well as everyone in between. I love them all and I hope they love me too. We are all searching and searching is key. Whether your answer is in logic or faith or anywhere else, it’s your journey. This is my journey.
- ALL of the stuff ALL of the stuff ALL of the stuff is made to take us to a higher level. Someday I will learn to surrender to that, trust myself, trust my God and trust the process. Until then, I’ll keep doing my best. Mostly. Sometimes I will screw up in the biggest of ways.
- Love Wins. Every freaking time. Unless we choose hate. Ick.
- It’s the small things that are really biggest in life. Some of my favorite small things…When my Momma is proud of me (I know, I’m 46, but still, she’s my Mom!), when my kids surprise me with an unexpected hug, sunsets and sunrises, feeling the breeze on my bare skin, sweet kisses, coffee, yummy smells (of course)….
- Gratitude brightens even the darkest, dreariest days. Drop the mask, feel what you feel…but keep the gratitude going.
- Be kind, gracious, loving, tender, merciful and forgiving. At the same time, remember that boundaries are a beautiful thing and that boundaries and walls are not the same, ever.
- I will be unapologetically, unequivocally me, even when it makes me squirm. Especially when it makes me squirm. Simply because I am uniquely, beautifully made and there is only one of me. I love that quote, “Be you, everyone else is already taken.” That’s so right!
The magic is in the mercy. The gift is in the grace. Over and over and over I fail. Over and over and over I receive these compassions. I am surrounded with grace giving, magic mercy making, lovers of my heart and I am intensely blessed.